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What: FAU (4-2) vs. UCF (5-0)

When: Feb 27th 6:30 PM Boca Raton | March 19th 6:00 PM Orlando

Where: FAU Baseball Stadium | John Euliano Park        

Video: FAU TV | ESPN+

Live Stats: Here

UCF Team Site: Here

Series: The Knights lead 47-41. FAU is 15-10 under Coach John McCormack.

Projected Starting Pitchers:

FAU - RHP Braden Ostrander (0-1, 16.20 ERA)

Owl Notables

FAU's sweep over the Towson Tigers was quite impressive. What stood out even more was their pitching.

The Owls' bullpen combined for just three runs allowed across all three games of the series against Towson. This marked the first time the team only gave up three runs to an opponent since their season-opening series against George Washington back in 2018. That FAU team went on to finish 43-19-1 (19-8-1 CUSA) and make an appearance in the NCAA Regionals.

FAU has won their last three contests against UCF, including a sweep of the season series in 2023. A win on Tuesday would match FAU's longest winning streak against the Knights since winning four straight during the 2003-04 campaign.

Particular pitchers who impressed on the mound against Towson were starters CJ Williams, Trey Beard, and Tyler Murphy. The trio all collected wins for their performances throughout the weekend, combining for 13 strikeouts and just nine hits allowed across 16 innings. They displayed excellent composure even after Towson got on the scoreboard first in all three games.

The batting unit also deserves their recognition, particularly second baseman Christian Adams. After going 1-10 in his at-bats against Vanderbilt, he bounced back with a .571 (8-14) average with seven runs scored, one home run and four RBI. This resulted in him getting named to the AAC Weekly Honor Roll.

Another standout has been shortstop Brando Leroux (pictured above via Rick Henderson). Replacing last-year starter Armando Albert, he leads the team batting .417 with 10 hits and 10 RBI this season. He has gotten a hit in all six games, as he looks to keep that streak going against the Knights' pitching.

There may be a sense of redemption for Braden Ostrander, making his first start of the season against the Knights. After conceding the game-winning walk-off in the season-opener against Vanderbilt, he would look to bounce back with a resounding display against UCF's batters.

FAU does have another player on the injury report in first baseman Mike La Rocca, who won't be available for Tuesday's game. They started Jake Millan, who scored an RBI during Sunday's blowout win over Towson, as he could be in the same role against UCF. Starting at left field is also up for grabs, with Jalen DeBose and Carter Brady being potential candidates as it depends on head coach John McCormack's final decision prior to first pitch.

The Owls stay home as they host North Florida on February 28th at 6:30 PM. The game will be broadcast on FAU TV.

The starters (in non-batting order) for game one should be that of the below:

RF John Schroeder
CF Spencer Rich
LF Jalen DeBose or Carter Brady
1B Jake Millan
2B Christian Adams
3B Daulton Frank
DH Emilio Gonzalez
SS Brando Leroux
C Andrew McKenna
P Braden Ostrander

Knight Notables

UCF is off to a hot start to begin their 2024 campaign, winning their first five games under head coach Rich Wallace who is in his first season at the helm for UCF.

Before the season started, they had two of their pitchers get named to the 2024 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List: team captains Kyle Kramer and Najer Victor. Kramer led the Knights in saves over each of the past two seasons with six in 2022 and eight in 2023. Victor had a strong 2023 campaign in which he went 3-1 with a team-best 2.88 ERA and one save.

They are coming off a solid three-game sweep over Samford, where they outscored the Bulldogs 39-11 with an average winning margin of 9.3. They currently have the third-best batting average in the country at .377, only behind Wofford's .383 and Florida State's .379 averages.

Among the six batters hitting .400 or better, junior catcher Andrew Sundean has been the most lethal batter for UCF. He leads the Knights with a .524 average (37th-nationally) and eight runs scored. Junior infielder Andrew Estrella's 12 RBI are the most on the team, as he tops the chart in home runs with two. Preventing them from getting easy hits and putting runs on the board should be imperative for the Owls' bullpen.

After this matchup, the Knights return to Orlando as they host USF for three games starting March 1st at 6:00 PM EST. The series will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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